Musicals

 

 

 

 

 

THE IMPOSTERS

 

A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

 

Crazy for You

 

Sean Palmer as Bobby Child and Clare Foster as Polly Baker in Crazy for You
Photo by Tristram Kenton

 

Music and Lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin

 

Book by Ken Ludwig

 

Co-conception by Ken Ludwig and Mike Ockrent

 

Inspired by material by Guy Bolton and John McGowan

 

Originally produced on Broadway by Roger Horchow and Elizabeth Williams

 

Director – Timothy Sheader

 

Choreographer – Stephen Mear

 

Set & Costume Design – Peter Mc Kintosh

 

Dance Arrangements, Musical Supervisor &

Musical Director – Gareth Valentine

 

Lighting Designer – Tim Mitchell

 

Orchestrator – Tim Egan

 

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre


 
28 July – 10 September 2011
 

 

If you’re into getting away from it all in 1930’s New York, made in Hollywood style, look no further than the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park’s production of Gershwin’s Crazy for You, Lovingly retro attention has been paid to its musical arrangements, casting and staging in order to retain the show’s original sense of Harlow era, wise-cracking glamour and as a result, it’s a real humdinger of a night out!

1992 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical, Crazy for You, billed as ‘the new Gershwin musical comedy’, is drawn mainly from the Gershwin 1930 hit show, Girl Crazy, with some of the best songs ever written by the inimitable song-writing duo added in: ‘Embraceable You,’ ‘I Got Rhythm,’ Someone to Watch Over Me,’ ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’ and ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me,’ to name but a few.

Big, spangle-filled, up close and personal - paradoxes, maybe, but apt for this revival of Broadway show Crazy for You…High on razz ma tazz via large scale ensemble numbers featuring a myriad of sparkly, feather trimmed dancers with platinum blond curls, it still enables cinematic close ups for romantic moments brimming with charm and comparative innocence. It’s a landscape where the bad girl’s the seemingly, businesslike one with secretly swaying hips, the tomboy heroine becomes a princess in a glistening pink gown, even ‘big lugs’ get a lookin’ from leggy chorus girls and the guy ALWAYS gets his girl. Familiar territory… especially for those who remember the days when Hollywood’s kaleidoscopic history played itself out on TV every day of the week as a matter of course, often revisiting glitzy, large scale, Depression era NYC set musicals.  All the beloved components that were there then are here now: chorus girls, aspiring stars, hoofers, yokels, girl next door, domineering mother, the Wild West – more clapped out than legend has it, and of course, city slickers Bobby Child and Ziegfeld like Bela Zangler.

Bobby Child (Sean Palmer) is a tapper with the atypical dream of becoming a big Broadway star. He can sing and dance the shoes off nearly anybody, but Mr. Zangler (David Burt) is unimpressed. Bobby’s statuesque fiancée of five years, Irene (Kim Medcalf) wants him to give up his dream and take a steady job in a bank, ditto his bullying mother Lottie (Harriet Thorpe) who continually locks antlers with strong-willed Irene. When Bobby heads off to a burnt out Western town at his mother’s insistence to seize the lease of its’ long dormant theatre, he meets Polly, (Clare Foster) and her father, Everett (Sidney Livingstone) who reminisces about his late wife’s glowing performances in the once booming venue. Bobby is smitten with Polly, so he agrees to help her stage one last show in the theatre in the hope of making enough money to save it, but obstacles in the form of hard man/rival for Polly’s affections Lank Hawkins, (Michael Mickell), long suffering fiancé Irene, a case of mistaken identity, townsmen with two left feet and a host of other variables add humour, colour and wisdom to the previously parched prairie.

The first thing you’ll see as you enter Open Air Theatre is Peter Mc Kintosh’s dynamic set, with its sea of brightly lit theatre signs, evocative of Broadway in the 1930’s. The tall wooden set reverses to reveal the down at heel main-street of the dusty ole Western town that winds up fueling Bobby’s dreams. As a door opens, the set takes another turn, revealing an exciting change of scene, seamlessly enacted. There’s magic afoot before the show begins thanks to Mc Kinstosh’s wizardry. It’s almost inconceivable that the same talented man who designed these glorious sets could have also dreamed up the show’s fitting costumes, with their loose legged, high waisted trousers, tie collared blouses, midriff baring tops, short gathered skirts, gorgeous floor length gowns and colourful long-skirted suits with contrasting bags and hats. There are also glittering silver and white beaded/feathered outfits and blue ensembles…True ‘30’s elegance, with satin Mary Jane pumps in gold, silver and white, and Fred Astaire, tailored tuxedos.

Bobby, as Sean Palmer plays him, is all high hopes and easy going charm, tapping his way into the heart of his dream girl, and the audience…Palmer is a fantastic performer on all counts - acting, singing and dancing, with great comedic timing and charisma to spare. Other standouts in an outstanding cast include David Burt as Bela Zangler, who performs to great laughs, especially opposite Palmer in a hilariously enacted scene in which Bobby impersonates Zangler while both men are rip-roaring drunk. But Burt handily wrings laughs from each scene he appears in, at just the right moment, bar none. Kim Medcalf also tips the scales as Bobby’s fiancé Irene when she realizes she’s been chasing the wrong fella and comes on to the guy she deems the new Mr. Right, via ‘Naughty Baby’.

 

Kim Medcalf as Irene Roth and Michael Mc Kell as Lank Hawkins in Crazy for You
Photo by Tristram Kenton

 

At first, red-haired Clare Foster seems aloof as Polly, the girl next door who lives on the opposite side of the USA to Bobby, but once her singing and dancing comes into full stride in tandem with Palmer’s, we’re swept up in her performance and, their onstage romance. Rachel Stanley as Tess, Zangler’s hard-working assistant delivers her lines with just the right amount of sass to make them seem apt for the street smart era. But there isn’t one performance in this production that doesn’t do it proud and every actor is a joy to watch.

Speaking of joyful watching, Stephen Mear’s choreography is nothing short of sublime, with its high-spirited, delightful ensemble numbers and unabashedly sentimental, romantically sweeping duets.

The band, hidden behind wooden slated panels in an unobtrusive structure designed for the purpose, plays the show’s many numbers with just the right combination of pizzazz and joviality on upbeat songs, and rhythmic dreaminess for romantic numbers. Their conductor appeared for bows during curtain calls.

Everything about this production is, both, warmly familiar and totally original, and any nods to the here and now are thankfully, cloaked in its’ fond repartee with its subject matter and time period. All is copacetic as they say, from a cheered, in character mop up by men of the ensemble after heaven favoured us with a few press night sprinkles, up to and applauding Timothy Sheader’s tip-top directing.

This is musical theatre just as it should be, with sets and costumes oozing atmosphere, star turns from all of its players, great choreography, and a rousing band breathing life into Gershwin’s fantastic score.

‘Nice work if you can get it,’ the song says – likewise, a lovely trip back in time via this dazzling, hugely enjoyable, truly memorable revival of Crazy for You!

 

 
Sean Palmer as Bobby Child in Crazy for You at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
Photo by Tristram Kenton
 
 
 http://openairtheatre.org/production/crazyforyou
 
Regent's Park Theatre
Open Air Theatre
Inner Circle Regent's Park
London NW1 4NR
 
Monday-Saturday: 7:45 (gates 6:15)
Thursday & Saturday: 2:15 (gates 1:15)
Running Time: 2hr 35mins (incl interval)
Tickets 49.50 - 22.50

 

Ticket-related enquires 0844 826 4242
Other enquires 0844 375 3460

 

 

 

 

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